5 Things to Know About Fatal I-94 Pileup in Indiana

Details continue to emerge from the massive collision

Friday, Jan 24, 2014  |  Updated 11:49 AM CDT
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A multiple-vehicle pileup left at least two dead on Interstate 94 near Michigan City Thursday. Sky 5 surveys the scene from above.

A multiple-vehicle pileup left at least two dead on Interstate 94 near Michigan City Thursday. Sky 5 surveys the scene from above.

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How Could NW Indiana Crash Occur

NBC Chicago Storm Team meteorologist Brant Miller explains the whiteout conditions that were present along Interstate 94 near Michigan City, Ind., that resulted in a massive pileup involving more than 45 vehicles.
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Dozens of vehicles had to be removed to reopen I-94 near Michigan City, Ind., after a massive pileup killed three people and injured more than 20 others.

The 3 p.m. crash happened in the eastbound lanes of I-94 at mile marker 36 in LaPorte County and involved tractor-trailers, trucks and multiple passenger cars, vans and SUVs.

As details continue to emerge from the chain-reaction collision, here are five things to take away.

1. Weather played a role. Meteorologists said clear weather quickly changed to near-whiteout conditions, and witnesses said a suddenly slick roadway left them powerless. "It went from sunshine to complete no visibility, so when they entered in, it turned into slide off, crash, crash, and multiplied into what we have now," Police Sgt. Ann Wojas said.
 
2. Chicago man, Michigan couple killed. Jerry Dalrymple, 65, was killed in his vehicle along with his 7-year-old black Labrador, Sparky. He was described as a compassionate man who loved the outdoors. Thomas Wolma, 67, and Marilyn Wolma, 65, a couple from Grand Rapids, Mich., also died. They had been caring for a relative in Chicago.

3. At least 23 others injured. "I thought we were going to die, honestly," crash survivor Devon Nash told NBC 5 from a hospital bed. His vehicle crashed into the car in front of him as he was rear-ended, and a semi slid toward them. Of the injured, two remain critical. Doctors said they were surprised overall injuries weren't worse.

4. 18 semis involved. A wall of semitrailers could be seem at the front of the crash, and aerials of the scene showed a dozen others pushed together among cars. In total 46 vehicles were involved. LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan said cranes needed to be used to pull away trucks and get to victims.

5. Backup lasted nearly five hours for some. Temperatures clocked in around 10 degrees as hundreds of cars came to a standstill behind the crash. Stacey Johnson, 37, told the Associated Press she was stranded on the road with her children, and if it weren't for a full tank of gas, it could have been a dangerous situation.

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